Kate Beckinsale- Biography

Also Credited As:

Kathryn Bailey Beckinsale

About Kate Beckinsale

Despite being an onscreen novice, actress Kate Beckinsale made a strong film debut as the virginal Hero in Kenneth Branagh's sun-dappled adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing" (1993), projecting the requisite intelligence and star quality that deemed her one to watch. Since her breakthrough, Beckinsale went on to make a name for herself in her native England, then across the pond in the United States, where she made her debut in "The Last Days of Disco" (1998). Though her first major American film, "Brokedown Palace" (1999), proved to be a box office flop, she gained widespread exposure in the blockbuster "Pearl Harbor" (2001). But it was Beckinsale's starring turn as the leather-clad vampire warrior, Selene, in "Underworld" (2003) that earned her a legion of young comic book fans who enjoyed seeing her reprise the sexy role in "Underworld: Evolution" (2006), which she deftly balanced with a realistic portrayal of Ava Garnder in "The Aviator" (2004), confirming that Beckinsale was a not only a star of varied talents but an undeniable brunette beauty who harkened back to Hollywood's Golden Age goddesses.

Born on July 26, 1973 in London, England, Beckinsale was the daughter of comic Richard Beckinsale - who died when she was five years old - and actress Judy Loe. She pursued her education at Godolphin & Latymer School, then Oxford University, where she studied French and Russian literature, as well as took up acting. Beckinsale, however, spent a good portion of her teen years struggling with an eating disorder - of which she later spoke frankly of in interviews - before she decided to try her hand at acting. Meanwhile, after making her debut in a bit part in the mystery "Devices and Desires" (BBC, 1991), she landed the pivotal role of the rebellious daughter of a British woman (Judy Davis) involved with the French Resistance during WWII in "One Against the Wind" (CBS, 1991). Once she had become established as an ingénue with "Much Ado About Nothing," Beckinsale carefully crafted a career path that would not find her typecast.

Born on July 26, 1973 in London, England, Beckinsale pursued her education at Godolphin & Latymer School, then Oxford University, where she took up acting. In "Royal Deceit/The Prince of Jutland" (1994), which was based on the Danish prince whose life inspired Shakespeare's "Hamlet," she starred opposite Christian Bale. A lighter, more charming side to the actress was displayed in "Marie-Louise, or The Leave" (1995), in which she played a young woman searching for her lover in a crowded train station. Beckinsale delivered a strong turn as the meddlesome orphan taken in by eccentric relatives in the brittle comedy "Cold Comfort Farm" (also 1995). As Flora Poste, she anchored the film and managed to make a busybody character seem charming, and in some ways it was a warm-up for her tackling "Jane Austen's Emma" (BBC/AE, 1996). Although Douglas McGrath's feature version starring Gwyneth Paltrow had opened on American screens first, this version found its partisans who felt it was more faithful to the spirit of Austen.

Capitalizing on the sass and intelligence she had projected in both "Cold Comfort Farm" and "Jane Austen's Emma", Beckinsale shone as an aristocratic med student who falls in with two charming con men (Dan Futterman and Stuart Townsend) in the underrated caper flick "Shooting Fish" (1997). Adopting a flawless American accent, the actress next registered as the bitchy junior publishing executive seeking fun and perhaps Mr. Right in Whit Stillman's "The Last Days of Disco" (1998). The following year, Beckinsale retained the Americanisms to portray a mousy tourist in Thailand who falls for a slick Australian, dragging herself and her traveling companion (Claire Danes) into accusations of drug smuggling in "Brokedown Palace." After time out for motherhood, she returned to the big screen as Nick Nolte's daughter in the Merchant Ivory adaptation of Henry James' "The Golden Bowl" (2000).

The attractive actress finally had a shot at more mainstream success with two high profile leading roles in 2001. In the big-budget epic "Pearl Harbor," she was cast as a US Navy nurse who falls in love with a dashing pilot (Ben Affleck) but when news of his death arrives turns to his best friend (Josh Hartnett) for comfort. And Beckinsale was cast opposite John Cusack in the mildly engaging romantic comedy "Serendipity," playing a woman who believes more in fate than love at first sight and faces a long but seemingly inevitable road to romance. The actress surfaced again in 2003 in the arty indie "Laurel Canyon" as the icy fiancée of an L.A. native (Christian Bale) who returns to his eclectic mother's home in Laurel Canyon, where Beckinsale's character slowly becomes seduced by the sultry Los Angeles lifestyle.

Her highest profile role to date came in "Underworld" (2003), a glossy supernatural thriller with Romeo-and-Juliet overtones, in which Beckinsale played Selene, a vampire embroiled in her kind's long feud with a werewolf clan who falls in love with one of her blood enemies (Scott Speedman). Beckinsale followed up with another action-packed supernatural thriller, teaming with Hugh Jackman for "Van Helsing" (2004), in which she played Anna Valerious, a vampire slayer from a long line committed to ending the reign of Count Dracula who teams with the count's longtime human foe. The actress was better served by her next project, director Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes glamorous and visually arresting biopic "The Aviator" (2004), in which the actress provided a sultry spark as the fiery film icon Ava Gardner, Hughes' (Leonardo DiCaprio) most challenging, yet sympathetic, paramour.

Beckinsale next revived the vampire Selene for the sequel, "Underworld: Evolution" (2006), as vampires and werewolves battle each other for ultimate control of the undead. As the violence between the two warring factions increases, Selene and her werewolf beau, Michael (Scott Speedman), try to uncover the secrets of the conflict while delving into their own pasts. Despite poor reviews, "Underworld: Evolution" managed to rake in a descent payday. Meanwhile, she starred opposite Adam Sandler in "Click" (2006), a middlebrow comedy about an overworked architect (Sandler) whose life seemingly changes for the better when a strange Bed, Bath and Beyond clerk gives him a universal remote that can pause, rewind or fast-forward anything - barking dog included. But as the remote gets stuck on fast-forward, causing him to miss all the important events in his life, he realizes that it's probably better to take the bad with the good rather than let his whole life pass before his eyes.

Returning to the horror genre - an apparent favorite for the actress - Beckinsale starred in "Vacancy" (2007), another in a long line of suspense thrillers released in the early part of the century. In this all-too-obvious take on "Psycho," Beckinsale played the soon-to-be ex-wife of a man (Luke Wilson) forced to spend the night at a seedy motel run by an odd, but seemingly harmless proprietor (Frank Whaley). But the couple soon discovers that the cache of homemade slasher flicks they have found were shot in the very room in which they are staying - both must put aside their differences and work together in order to avoid becoming the next victims of the sadistic filmmakers. While most horror thriller are brushed off by critics as being redundant and tedious, "Vacancy" received its fair share of positive reviews. Meanwhile, she starred in "Snow Angels" (2008), playing a woman whose turbulent marriage to her husband (Sam Rockwell) recalls dark memories from the past, then followed with "Nothing But the Truth (2008), playing a jailed journalist who wrote an explosive about a government scandal and refused to divulge the name of her source when pressured by a special government prosecutor.

Focusing her attention on small films and other genres besides horror, Beckinsale starred in the psychological thriller "Whiteout" (2009), where she played a U.S. Marshal forced to find a vicious killer in Antarctica before the sun sets for six months winter. Critics were in agreement that "Whiteout" was tedious and formulaic, while audiences sought out other entertainment, resulting in the film's poor showing at the box office. Beckinsale went on to star opposite Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell and Robert De Niro in the low-budget drama, "Everybody's Fine" (2009), in which she played a successful Chicago advertising exec whose father (De Niro) drives across country to make amends with his four children following the death of their mother. Critics were mixed, as the film came and went in a limited release. Meanwhile, Beckinsale returned to larger studio projects with a turn as the girlfriend of a former smuggler (Mark Wahlberg) forced back into the life to settle a debt in the above-average action thriller "Contraband" (2012). After reprising Selene for the critically panned, but commercially successful "Underworld: Awakening" (2012), Beckinsale was Colin Farrell's fake wife in the high-profile remake of "Total Recall" (2012).

Partners

Companion

Edmund Moriarty. Dated when she attended Cambridge

Husband

Len Wiseman. Met when he directed her in "Underworld" (2003); married May 9, 2004 in Los Angeles, CA

Companion

Michael Sheen. Met during the production of "The Seagull" (1995); father of her daughter, Lily Mo Sheen; relationship ended during the filming of "Underworld" (2003), in which they both starred, when Beckinsale left Sheen for the film's director Len Wiseman, whom she later married

Family

Daughter

Lily Sheen. Born Jan. 31, 1999; father, Michael Sheen

Father

Richard Beckinsale. Born July 6, 1947; played Lennie Godber on the popular BBC sitcom "Porridge"; married Kate's mother, actress Judy Loe in 1977; died of a heart attack on March 19, 1979

Mother

Judy Loe. Born March 6, 1947; married to Kate's father, Richard Beckinsale until his death in 1979; married TV director Roy Battersby in 1997

Education

Godolphin and Latymer School

University of Oxford, Oxford , England

University of Oxford, Oxford , England

Career Milestones

Studied French and Russian literature at New College, Oxford

1991

Played Judy Davis' rebellious daughter in the CBS TV-movie "One Against the Wind"

1991

Played small role in the British TV-miniseries "Devices and Desires" (ITV)

1993

Feature film debut as Hero in Kenneth Branagh's feature adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing"

1993

Played the Ophelia character in "Prince of Jutland/ Royal Deceit"

1994

Played the female lead in "Marie-Louise ou la permission"

1995

Made stage acting debut in "The Seagull"

1995

Portrayed the orphan Flora Poste who goes to live with her relatives in "Cold Comfort Farm" (BBC)

1996

Appeared in the London stage productions of "Sweethearts" and "Clocks"

1997

Co-starred with Stuart Townsend and Dan Futterman in "Shooting Fish"

1997

Played the lead in the British version of Jane Austen's "Emma" (ITV; aired in the U.S. on A&E)

1998

Appeared in Whit Stillman's ensemble drama "The Last Days of Disco"

1998

Played Alice in British TV production of "Alice Through the Looking Glass"

1999

Co-starred with Clare Danes in "Brokedown Palace"

2000

Portrayed Nick Nolte's daughter in the Merchant-Ivory adaptation of Henry James' "The Golden Bowl"

2001

Acted with John Cusack in the romantic comedy "Serendipity"

2001

Portrayed a 1940s army nurse who becomes involved in a love triangle with two pilots in "Pearl Harbor"

2003

Played Christian Bale's love interest in "Laurel Canyon"

2003

Played the protagonist Selene opposite Scott Speedman in the horror film "Underworld," written and directed by Len Wiseman

2004

Cast as Anna opposite Hugh Jackman in the horror thriller "Van Helsing"

2004

Portrayed Ava Gardner opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's "Aviator"

2006

Reprised role of Selene and once again teamed with director Len Wiseman for "Underworld: Evolution"

2007

Co-starred with Luke Wilson in the horror film "Vacancy"

2008

Acted alongside Forest Whitaker and Guy Pearce in the ensemble drama "Fragments"

2008

Co-starred with Sam Rockwell in the romantic drama "Snow Angels"

2008

Played a reporter facing possible jail time for outing a CIA agent and refusing to reveal her source in Rod Lurie's "Nothing but the Truth"

2009

Co-starred with Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, and Sam Rockwell in the family drama "Everybody's Fine"

2009

Made a cameo in "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" as her character Selene

2009

Played a U.S. Marshal tracking a killer in Antarctica as the sun is about to set for six months in "Whiteout"

2012

Cast as the wife of Mark Wahlberg's character, a former criminal who gets forced back into a life of crime after his family is threatened, in the action thriller "Contraband"

2012

Reprised role of Selene in "Underworld: Awakening"